Copper deficiency manifests itself mainly as low spirits, tiredness and fatigue, resulting in anemia and presenting a very pale skin, which gives a sick appearance to the person suffering from it.
What is the importance of copper?
Copper takes on several important tasks in the body and is one of the three essential elements. It is part of 16 known enzymes and is needed, for example, to absorb iron. Iron is essential for the formation of hemoglobin, which in turn is necessary for the transport of oxygen.
Copper is also involved in the formation of red blood cells through its participation in iron metabolism. Copper is necessary for the absorption of iron. It is required for the protection of cell membranes, acts as an antioxidant and protects against free radicals. It also participates in the building of bones, skin and hair.
Furthermore, copper contributes to the transport of electrons and therefore to the production of energy. The trace mineral also participates in the formation of collagen and elastin in connective tissue and also contributes to the protection of nerve cells.
Copper is necessary for the formation of melanin, which is immunostimulating and anti-inflammatory. In addition, the trace element contributes to the strengthening of the defense system and promotes wound healing.
Symptoms of a copper deficiency
Copper facilitates the absorption of iron through food. Therefore, the result of a copper deficiency is often an iron deficiency. Both elements are necessary for the production of red blood cells.
The copper deficiency often results in anemia and pallor. Paleness in turn leads to skin pigmentation disorders and early hair graying. In addition to paleness, anemia also leads to poor performance, fatigue, concentration problems, and weakness.
The immune system is also affected by copper deficiency. This can result in skin diseases and infections. Other symptoms of copper deficiency include depression, brittle bones, growth disorders, and fertility problems.
Causes of a copper deficiency
Copper is absorbed through the diet, which means that a well-balanced diet rarely causes copper deficiency. Since absorption of copper takes place through the gastrointestinal tract, its absorption can be adversely affected, especially by chronic inflammatory diseases of the intestine.
Also, long-term use of supplements that contain zinc can interfere with copper absorption. Besides smoking, other substances can inhibit the absorption of copper in the body. These include too much vitamin C, zinc, and calcium.
Higher requirements for copper in the body can also be a cause of deficiency. For example, the body's requirement for copper is increased by disorders of the immune system and in all inflammatory diseases.
This additional demand can be well met in the form of tablets containing copper. However, this should always be done in consultation with a doctor, because too much copper can also have negative consequences.
Nutritionally, a copper deficiency can also occur in babies. Especially if they are not breastfed. A copper deficiency can also occur more frequently during pregnancy.
Recommended copper per day
Daily copper consumption: How do I adequately meet my daily needs?
Foods such as apples, cooked cauliflower, or pork can be used to meet daily requirements.
The daily requirement for children older than 7 years and adults is 1.0 to 1.5 milligrams.
Learn more about copper sources to avoid deficiencies.
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